The adoption and communication of Scottish identity on Instagram

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Over the past two weeks, I’ve had the privilege of interviewing six Scottish fashion and lifestyle bloggers about the adoption and communication of Scottish identity on Instagram. My interview approach is semi structured where I begin by talking to participants about their own national identity quite generally, moving on to how Scotland features in this. The only criteria to take part in the interview is that you are promoting personal fashion and style identity publicly on Instagram and that Scotland or Scottish is mentioned in your Instagram biography. Although participants don’t have to have a blog, everyone – so far – does.

The second part of the interview focuses on Instagram where participants were asked to provide (in advance of the interview) a selection of posts that they feel represent their identity as a Scottish fashion influencers. This is something I didn’t ask for in my preliminary research interviews and I’ve found it so interesting seeing the images that participants chose and also hearing more about why they chose the posts they chose and how they went about doing so. Some participants replied to me within an hour with their images and others preferred to consider this more carefully; some felt it was very easy to select the images and others found it more difficult. I’ve not yet found many examples of research that use this type of photo elicitation technique. Although photo elicitation – as an approach – is recognised in social science research, this usually appears to involve the researcher selecting the images and showing these to participants during the interview in order to analyse their response (Collier, 1957). Indeed there is also a technique called “photo voice” where participants are given a camera and asked to take photos that tell a story about a particular issue or place (Photovoice, 2017). This is almost the reverse of that, where the story has already been told and, through the eyes of the participant, I’m able to gain further insights into not just the story itself but also the motivations and experience behind this.

Because I wish to keep the identity of my participants private, and protect their personal responses around the issue of identity and place in fashion and lifestyle blogging, I thought I would select a small sample of images from my own Instagram that I feel represent my own Scottish identity… Because I don’t set out to convey Scottish fashion and style identity in a public way on my Instagram, my examples might be limited, for example I don’t post many pictures of myself. Also, given the focus of my research (and the fact I have now seen the images provided by my interviewees) I might also be a little biased in my selection of images. Anyway – here they are:

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The photo above shows my place of work, set along the banks of the River Dee.. It was taken on a sunnier day a few weeks ago when my colleague and I were lunching outside, something that doesn’t happen very often…

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A key annual event for me, as a lecturer, is our summer and winter graduation ceremonies which take place each year at the beautiful His Majesty’s Theatre and our Musical Hall. The photo above shows two of my first ever first years on their way to graduation and, to me, it screams “Aberdeen” with the rain reflecting off the cobbles (in July!) and the typically grey granite backdrop.

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The above is a really old photo, taken about 4 years ago (hence the horrible filter/ image quality) but it reminded me that I am 100% more likely to post an image of an item of clothing that has Scottish connotations; and that I still do that to this day (see below). Here I am (above) with tartan effect skinny jeans (which I still have but rarely wear), heading out for drinks with friends to watch my first (maybe second?) rugby match – supporting Scotland of course! This photo was definitely taken in summer but I still appear to be wearing a puffy Zara coat because… well, in Scotland you can never be sure!

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In the photo above I’m wearing my trusty camel coat (which actually is not always a great move in Scotland due to its colour and lack of waterproof qualities) which is one of my few post baby/ returning to work purchases (I’m also wearing it today). I took this photo when I was walking to work for a keeping in touch day before returning the next month from my second maternity leave (I think it might have been our first year induction) and the scarf is the reason I chose it. This is not a Burberry scarf (although I do have a vintage one that once belonged to my Nana), this is from the Edinburgh Woollen Mill and is favoured because it’s 100% cashmere, was fairly inexpensive (I have about 3 variations) and less scratchy than the Burberry alternative. But it looks quite Scottish no? Well, that’s probably why I posted it.

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The above is what can only be described as overtly Scottish. Again you must excuse the slightly dodgy filter that I’ve used, this was taken in September 2014 and, if you live in Scotland (maybe even if you don’t?), you’ll probably be able to guess the connotations behind it. These cupcakes were being sold by my favourite Aberdeen bakery (Blackbird Bakery) which will always hold a special place in my heart as my, now, husband proposed to me using a box of their cupcakes which spelled out the words “marry me?”

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On that note, it’s where we got our wedding cake and here’s us leaving Banchory Lodge hotel (above) after dropping it off the day before our wedding. Take note of the beautiful venue but also the grey sky and thick jackets we’re wearing…

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Fast forward 24 hours are here we are after getting married outdoors in the beautiful warmth and sunshine on the banks of the River Dee, in September. Who could possibly have predicted that? I remember being very anxious because it was so, completely unplanned but it was lovely and now I can’t imagine us having done it any other way. This is something I love and hate about Scotland, where the weather can surprise you in both directions. One of the reasons we chose September was because I so badly didn’t want to get my hopes up for good weather. However, after our wedding I did vow never to complain about the Scottish weather again!

You’ll also note the Scottish thistles in my bouquet and my Geordie (English) husband who is wearing a tartan tie. His family and many of his friends are based in Newcastle and travelled to Aberdeenshire for our wedding; most of them had never visited before and it was so nice for them to see it in the sunshine.

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Above are my niece and nephew playing on the river bank during the drinks reception; it was moments like these that are what made the day so special and memorable.

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Through the eyes of my children, I’m able to appreciate Scotland and Aberdeen by spending more time outside and enjoying our natural surroundings, stopping to appreciate some of the small examples of beauty around us. My daughter always stops to admire and (where appropriate!) pick flowers. Neither of my children have ever been good at napping indoors so we’ve always gone out for walks to get fresh air and encourage sleep and so there are parts of Aberdeen that will always make me remember when my children were very young babies, like Duthie Park, the West End, the old Deeside Railway line, etc.

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Pink or purple contrasts really beautifully with the grey granite that is so strongly associated with Aberdeen and that’s something that some of my participants have also highlighted in their responses, where I’ve seen a few examples of hot pink Rhododendrons against a granite backdrop. Indeed we had a mature one in the front garden of our previous granite home and so I suppose this must have been a bit of a floral, garden trend… The photo below is of said Rhododendron and, interestingly, although you can’t see the granite of our house, I appear to have selected a grey framing effect, which might indicate that I associate this colour quite strongly with the flower.

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We have taken to visiting lots of castles and stately homes; Crathes (below) is our go-to as it’s not too far from home and the kids love it there. They’re too young really to take a tour of the castle but we can enjoy the walled gardens, the surrounding woodlands and (of course) the cafe!

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It’s also quite nice that we often have my husband’s family visiting from Newcastle and this forces us to actively think about (and visit) interesting places in and around Aberdeen.

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A fashion related challenge for me, which I appreciate is not unique to Scotland alone, is an inability to commit to a summer wardrobe. We were lucky enough to experience some truly glorious weather a couple of weeks ago and I was entirely underprepared for this and, as a result, so were my children! However, it’s rained almost every day since so I’m actually quite glad I didn’t go out and buy lots of summer clothes! I’d rarely invest in summer clothes for myself but tend to wear the same things year on year and I am far more excited by winter fashion, both for myself and for the children. I tried on a gorgeous maxi dress in Zara last week and it was actually quite inexpensive but I just couldn’t bring myself to buy it; even though we’re going on holiday to Spain later this year, it just didn’t seem worth it knowing I would probably never wear it at home. Interestingly, this view was echoed by some of my research participants, particularly two that had experiences of living (or travelling) in warmer countries.

I’m still looking for 4-6 participants to take part in my research and so, if you happen to come across this post and are interested in taking part please get in touch!

 

References

Collier, J. Jr. (1957). Photography in anthropology: a report on two experiments. American Anthropologist. 59(5). pp. 843-859.

Photovoice, (2017). Our vision and mission. [Online]. Available at: https://photovoice.org/vision-and-mission/. [Accessed on 5th June 2017].

 

 

 

Today’s office

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Today I spent a lovely afternoon in Starbucks meeting more fabulous fashion bloggers and hearing the story of their blogging identities. I’m really looking forward to meeting more bloggers over the next few weeks and would like to thank everyone who’s responded so far!

Calling North East fashion bloggers

I’m looking for fashion bloggers from the North East of Scotland who’d be interested in being interviewed for my current research project into blogger identity and motivation. This is an opportunity to get involved in an exciting piece of research into an area that’s of increasing importance in fashion communication today! Interviews will, ideally, take place in Aberdeen during the next four to six weeks and should take no more than an hour. These will be very informal, lasting around one hour, and can be done over coffee. All responses will be entirely confidential and you and your blog will not be named at any point during the research. If you’re interested in being involved then please get in touch via email at m.marcella1@rgu.ac.uk. I’m also looking for some suggestions of fashion bloggers who I could contact and please do feel free to share this request with anyone you think might be interested. Where a face-to-face interview might not be suitable for participants, I would be happy to arrange a telephone or Skype call. Many thanks!

Fashionable fundraising and research update

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It’s been a busy few months at the Fashion Place with two of our annual student events taking place in Spring! Over the past few months, the students have been working hard to plan their events in celebration of Aberdeen Business School’s fiftieth anniversary. Our fashion exhibition, in April, was a huge success where our students raised around £400 for a range of local charities. The students planned lots of value adding additions for their launch event, including the pink lemonade tower (pictured below).

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Our Golden Show fashion event took place on the 29th of May and the students completely transformed the atrium of Aberdeen Business School, using crepe pompoms, paper dresses, balloons and confetti. We got some fantastic feedback from guests and successfully raised £4737 for Down’s Syndrome Scotland. We’re very grateful to all the sponsors who helped make the night a success!

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It’s always sad to see the students leave for summer, the campus is so quiet without them. The fashion show is a lovely send off though and the perfect way to end the semester. I’m so passionate about this event, having been part of the very first student cohort who organised it (back in 2008).

Now the focus is very much back on my research projects and I’m delighted to have conducted my first fashion blogger interview today – I can already see that there will be lots of interesting and thought provoking data that emerge from these! More on that soon…

Research context

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I’m super excited for my first proper lecture (on Friday) after returning from maternity leave! I seem to have spent so much time at my desk over the last few weeks (which has actually been really good as it’s allowed me to get on with my research and plan my classes for this semester). I’m definitely ready to get back to teaching though!

I’m also looking forward to a couple of opportunities to present on my previous and past research projects. I thought I’d share one of the Wordles I created as a visual to help me demonstrate the various contexts in which fashion communication might be studied. I love a Wordle and hadn’t done one in ages!

“Digital Dressing Up”

When I began scoping my research (almost two years ago now!) my supervisor recommended a number of relevant journal articles, one of which was Chittenden’s “Digital Dressing Up” (2010). Although this study is a little more specific in terms of target audience (teenage, female, fashion bloggers) it is really relevant in that it links the three main strands of my literature review – fashion, identity, and online.

Chittenden (2010, p. 505) discusses “digital dressing up” and the idea that digital media (blogs, social media, etc) are reshaping “self expression and identity building” and where the fashion blog has become a “space for play” (p. 513). She suggests that the way in which fashion bloggers model themselves online might begin to influence their offline identity. They may use their online identity to experiment with new styles and, if/ when these are deemed acceptable by followers, these will permeate to the blogger’s offline identity.

 The discursive spaces formed through the interaction of bloggers and their followers (i.e. the people who regularly read and post comments to a blog) facilitate a process of exchange, whereby teens can exploit their fashion tastes to increase the value of their social capital, (Chittenden, 2010, p. 506).

Another interesting observation from Chittenden (in line with earlier research by Bourdieu) is that blogs challenge the traditional, hierarchical relationship between consumers, producers and products resulting in a “prosumer” hybrid where bloggers can post their own designs and opinions.

Reference

Chittenden, T. (2010). Digital dressing up: modelling female teen identity in the discursive spaces of the fashion blogosphere. Journal of Youth Studies. 13(4). Pp. 505-520.

fashion as self-identity

Today I’m just going to update you with a little overview taken from the indicative literature review I carried out over summer; the first part of which deals with fashion as self identity.

Fashion is recognised today as being more than just the latest trends in clothing and accessories. Rocamora (2002, p. 342) states that “fashion can provide invaluable insights into [the] sociology of cultural consumption and production”. This is in line with Bourdieu (1996, np) whose research focuses on high fashion and “the consumption of culture”; the idea that fashion is about buying into a lifestyle. Bourdieu’s work has been criticised for its focus on luxury fashion and for being more relevant to Parisian culture and might therefore be considered less relevant when discussing fashion involvement at a more mainstream level, where “fast” and “disposable” fashion is growing in prominence (Entwistle and Rocamora, 2006); however it does contribute to what is becoming a global arena for fashion discussion, where luxury fashion forms a significant part.

… blinding themselves and others to the fact that they hold their jobs partly because they look like executives, not because they can work like executives, (Goffman, 1990, np).

As my research will look at various aspects of identity construction (fashion and online), Goffman’s theories are a good place to begin. Goffman (1990) maintains that identity can be expressed through aspects of everyday life, where individuals seek to control how they are perceived by others by managing their personal settings, appearance and manner.

Kleine and Kleine (1993) explore the relationship between consumption and identity and the differences between the “self as I” which links to thinking and behaviour and the “self as me” which combines possessions, attitudes and beliefs, and social attributes; fashion as a way of expressing identity would relate most closely to the “self as me” aspect of Kleine and Kleine’s research. They also stress the importance of achieving identity-related goals and schema. Schema is an inner repository of knowledge relating to specific identities which enables one to express that identity; this is mostly made up of experience and feedback from social interaction rather than stereotypes, in line with findings from Chassin et al, (1985). Other interesting observations include the extent to which individuals will adopt a number of identities and the subsequent use of “identity salience” which is the value individuals attribute to an identity and this can influence the extent to which this identity is adopted.  These themes will be considered throughout the proposed research.  

Bourdieu (1984, np) identifies ways of dressing amongst other expressive communication as manifestations of taste and the identity. Fashion is seen as “cultural capital” which can be used to create a “sense of belonging”; this is in line with studies into the construction of social identity online where, particularly in earlier research, users were found to seek a sense of belonging through groups.

Fashion events are a key part of the industry’s lifecycle and are therefore a central arena in which fashion commentary takes place. Communication has become more instantaneous with the advent of online social media and new players like fashion bloggers, with collections being ranked in terms of their coverage on social media.

Fashion events are a core aspect of the industry’s generic lifecycle. Today, a number of cities around the world host “fashion week” events and these form part of the “industry’s calendar”. Singer (2013, np) estimates that there are around eighty of these events in the world today and discusses two types of fashion week: those in the fashion capitals that serve as working events for the industry; and those in which the “spectacle of catwalk shows is treated largely as an end in itself”. In fact there are so many fashion weeks held across the world today, that it is difficult to find a complete list.

Despite its ostensible aim to simply showcase next season’s fashionable clothing, we suggest that LFW’s main function is to produce, reproduce and legitimate the field of fashion and the positions of those players within it, (Entwhistle and Rocamora, 2006, p. 736).

Fashion weeks are acknowledged today as being “an important moment within the life of the industry” (Entwhistle and Rocamora, 2006, p. 736). Entwhistle and Rocamora’s research focuses on a study of London Fashion Week (LFW); an event that they feel embodies fashion as a broader sector. One of the important characteristics that they emphasise is that the event brings together influential people within the industry, representing designers, journalists, buyers, models, celebrities, stylists and students. This is in line with Bourdieu’s (1996) field theory which focuses on culture and power and concurs that an event such as LFW is about much more than just showcasing the latest fashion collections; it is concerned with “position taking” (choices which individuals take to signal their position) and “habitus” (lifestyle and values of social groups). This theory will be considered as part of my research, particularly in terms of identity construction, the role of the actor, and to help evaluate the intended message.

 

References

Bourdieu, P. (1993). The field of cultural production. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Bourdieu, P. and Wacquant, L. J. D. (1996). An invitation to reflexive sociology. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Chassin, L. et al. (1985). Self-image and social-image factors in adolescent alcohol use. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. 6.

Entwhistle, J. and Rocamora, A. (2006). The field of fashion materialised: A study of London Fashion Week. Sociology. 40(4). Pp. 735-751.

Goffman, E. (1971). Relations in public: Microstudies of the public order. London: Penguin.

Goffman, E. (1990). The presentation of self in everyday life. London: Penguin Books.

Kleine, R.E. and Kleine, S. S. (1993). Mundane consumption and the self: a social identity perspective. Journal of Consumer Psychology. 2(3). Pp. 209-235.

Rocamora, A. (2001). High fashion and pop fashion: the symbolic production of fashion in Le Monde and the Guardian. Fashion Theory: the Journal of Dress, Body and Culture. 5(2).  PP. 123-142.

Rocamora, A. (2011). Personal fashion blogs: screens and mirrors in digital self portraits. Fashion Theory. 15(4). Pp. 407-424.

Singer, M. (2013). It’s always fashion week somewhere. [Online]. Available at: http://www.style.com/trendsshopping/stylenotes/011413_Global_Fashion_Weeks/. [Accessed on: 16th Mar 2013].

My blog is me

Just like a paper diary, weblogs are structured around ‘I’ narratives. They present the life of a sovereign subject who has a continuous identity and a coherent history, (Reed, 2013, p. 226).

In his article “my blog is me”, Reed explores the identity of bloggers; focusing mainly on the “kinds of person these digital texts can become” and how their identity might be received. This is something I’m interested in exploring with my research, where I will look at the message that the sender is trying to communicate (e.g. via a photograph on Instagram or post via a blog) and how this compares to the message that is actually being received; this will help me to draw conclusions about the identity of the author (or that which they are consciously trying to portray) vs how followers perceive the identity of that author:

Indeed, I believe we need to more regularly ask ourselves (as we do with most other kinds of artefacts), what kind of person is this text? Who does it substitute for? How is agency extended? Into what kind of matrix of relations does this ‘person’ enter? How is the ‘person’ composed and how does that composition alter over time? (p. 224).

An interesting aspect of this could be the extent to which the communicator actually considers the communication and how it might be received before posting it. The instantaneous and ungoverned nature of social media has made it perfectly simple for anyone to share their thoughts and photographs almost without conscious thought. Reed reflects on this:

At the heart of journal blogging is an ethos of immediacy. Weblogs entries are meant to be ‘of the moment’, a record of how the individual felt or thought at that particular point in time, (p. 227).

Although bloggers might reveal quite personal information about themselves, Reed argues “there are always aspects of the subject that remain outside or beyond the text, impressions that they cannot or do not want to post [and] while individuals are happy to assert that ‘my blog is me’, they also insist that ‘I am not my weblog’.”, (p. 230). Where a blogger has followers who they actually know offline, Reed argues they are likely to be more considered in their communications.

In terms of methodology, Reed draws inspiration for Gell (1998) who: “describes four kinds of entities (or subjects): the ‘index’ or material object itself, the ‘artist’ or attributed creator of that thing, the ‘recipient’ or viewer or consumer of it and the ‘prototype’ or entity depicted by the art-object (such as the landscape in a painting)” (p. 223). Reed reviewed a number of blogs, mostly from London, and met some of these bloggers face-to-face; these bloggers maintained that their blogs were “unreserved” representations of themselves. The continuous nature of a blog, where communication is instant and ongoing and a blogger’s story will build up over time, makes the text seem “alive”, (p. 227).

Reed discusses bloggers’ motivations where the most common motivation was to vent or offload personal thoughts or feelings, much like a diary. One of his research participants states: “blogging gets them out of my head, it’s a thing to get all that stuff out of your head that otherwise you couldn’t put anywhere”. Reed identifies that these bloggers often view blogging as being very separate to their work. I would hypothesise that this might be different for fashion bloggers, many of whom might be motivated by career progression, using their blog as a personal portfolio and encouraged to update this regularly due to the dynamic industry’s expectations. Another motivation for most bloggers is to attract more followers and retain existing ones. Bloggers rely on their followers and one of Reed’s participants likens blog posts to “the graffiti that one finds across the city, texts left for strangers to read”, (p. 232).

Bloggers regard each other as equals; they point out that the visitor to one weblog is always the prototype (and author) of another, (p. 232).

This quote is of particular interest to me, as it was my main motivation for setting up this blog. In order to carry out my research, I would like to actively engage with fashion bloggers in their own environment, in what Reed would describe as “conversations between texts”, (p. 235).

 

References

Gell, A. (1998). Art and agency: An anthropological theory. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Reed, A. (2006). “My blog is me”: Texts and persons in UK online journal culture. Journal of Anthropology. 70(2). Pp. 220-242.

Changing parameters of fashion communication

The communication revolution is here! (Allen, 2009, p. 2)

Although I’ll draw some inspiration from more traditional means of fashion communication (magazines, print ads, etc), the focus of my current research is online media. I’ll be looking, in particular, at fashion blogs, Instagram and Pinterest and analyse messages from a range of “actors”, including opinion leaders, fashion critics, fashion designers and emerging voices.

Instagram and Pinterest are still relatively new media (both were launched in 2010), and there is only limited research into their use as a tool for fashion communication. Blogs, on the other hand, are one of the earliest forms of online “social” media and have played a big role in the democratisation of communication; with fashion bloggers being recognised in their own right as “the new member in the fashion industry”, (Zhang, 2010, np). The control has shifted from sender to receiver and there is a new emphasis on engagement and interactivity, as opposed to top-down instruction. 

Allen (2009) discusses blogs in her exploratory study of the changing parameters in fashion communication, where she draws on earlier theories, for example that of Roland Barthes, (1967). She makes an interesting observation about the lack of a credible “gatekeeper”, where traditionally this control would sit, for example, with the editor of a fashion magazine like Vogue.

Allen makes another valuable point, this time around the style of this communication, which tends to be informal and conversational; on the one hand, this enables bloggers to engage their followers on a more personal level, but it can also lead to careless mistakes and bad grammar; this carelessness is made worse by the general lack of governance and instantaneous nature of social media, where a blogger can communicate a message instantly with relatively no thought or reflection beforehand. 

Blogs connect with their readership in two ways firstly by the conversational communication style of the blog content which includes both written discourse and visual communication. Secondly by the fact that the reader views this on a device that is closely viewed often as a solitary activity and a device owned by them, (Allen, 2009, p. 5).

Allen draws on examples from well known fashion blogs such as Style Bubble and highlights the importance of regular updates and the creation of a sense of “insider” knowledge, in order to encourage a loyal following and appear credible. A good example of language which she uses is the term “I popped to the private view” (Style Bubble, 2009, np).

This article is insightful and I found it a useful starting point for my research.

 

References

Allen, C. (2009). Style surfing  changing parameters of fashion communication – where have they gone? In: 1st Global conference: Fashion exploring critical issues. 25-27 September 2009. Mansfield College: Oxford.

Barthes, R. (1967). The Fashion System. USA: University of California Press.

Style Bubble, (2009). When you’re a boy… [Online]. Available at: http://www.stylebubble.co.uk/style_bubble/. [Accessed on: 17th October 2013].

Zhang, C. (2010). Fashion blogs: the new member in the fashion industry. Journal of Digital Research and Publishing. 3(1). Pp. 153-160.

Fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.

Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street. Fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening, (Coco Chanel).

This is one of my very favourite quotes by Coco Chanel; and she has a lot of quite fabulous ones! It’s the last part that I find particularly interesting: “Fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening”. It just goes to show how ahead of her time the designer was where fashion has continued to evolve and surround our everyday lives. Is there anywhere that this is more evident than in our use of online social media?

With a first degree in communication and a job history in marketing, I now work in a teaching role where I contribute to the BA (Hons) Fashion Management course at Aberdeen Business School, Robert Gordon University, Scotland. Upon graduating I completed a Masters degree in Project Management, a management discipline which I feel can be fabulously useful in today’s fast paced working world. However, given my interest in communication, social media and fashion (of course!) it seems appropriate that my current research should focus on this link between fashion and communication.

“Fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening”; I’m interested in the evolution of these words and, more specifically, that of fashion communication.

Traditionally, fashion commentary was an exclusive entity, where experts in the field of fashion (experienced designers, editors and journalists) contributed to style columns and, to some extent, dictated the success of trends and styles. At the same time, magazines were critical by omission, only covering styles, trends and designers who their editors deemed worthy of inclusion. The power of fashion magazines is evident in the case of New York’s ascendance as a fashion capital (Rantisi, 2004), where the editors of publications, such as Vogue, played a huge role in helping New York reposition itself, alongside Paris, as a creator of world class designs.

For those who are interested in the changing nature of fashion communication, Anna Konig’s article “Glossy words: An analysis of fashion writing in British Vogue” is a really interesting place to start. This article has formed the basis for my literature review on the subject.

Text contributes to an understanding of fashion by assigning descriptive or interpretative meanings to the objects and images presented on fashion pages, thereby mediating a cultural understanding of the phenomenon, (Konig, 2004, p. 207).

Konig (2004) examines fashion writing in Vogue over a twenty year period (1980-2001) and the extent to which this has evolved. She recognises that this change has come, partially as a result of changing readership perceptions; this is in line with research by Rocamora (2001) who explores the differences between high fashion and pop fashion. Konig deconstructs writing in Vogue through the following categories: content; tone; lexicon (use of words, terms and phrases); and cultural references (presence of cultural references outwith main focus of article).

In terms of content, Konig found that, over the period studied, lengthy articles, consisting of often quite technical terminology and description of garments were reduced to shorter, more concise text which often focuses on more abstract concepts relating to “fashionability”, (p. 211). More recently, in recognition of the changing demands of the audience, articles have focused on providing behind the scenes insights into the world of fashion. Konig makes some valuable observations about the changing tone of Vogue, in particular the use of irony which “has been used so liberally that it can be recognised as a significant indicator of shifting attitudes toward fashion”, (p. 212).

Lexicon is something that Konig found has changed quite dramatically, where early editions of Vogue included unconventional syntax, tautology and a shift in discussion of garment construction to purely aesthetic elements; where earlier editions of Vogue drew on French language to discuss technical aspects of garments, later editions used this mostly for “ironic effect”, (p. 214). Lexicon is something that Barthes (1995) also explores in his semiotic analyses of the language of fashion and the fashion system. Barthes’ work focuses on what clothing actually says in terms of signs and symbolic meaning; something which we will discuss a little later.

The aim of my research is to build on some of the earlier theories in fashion communication and I will seek to investigate social media as a tool of fashion communication in order to answer the following questions:

1)      What is the nature and purpose of online fashion communication today and who is this aimed at?

2)      What is the producer’s intent and how do they go about projecting this through online identity?

3)      Is the message which the producer is trying to project consistent with that which is being received?

If you are interested in this research or would like to be involved in any way then please don’t hesitate to get in touch. I’m going to be updating my blog over the next few months with various images, anecdotes and reviews of literature which will (hopefully) be of interest to anyone who shares my passion for fashion and communication.

 

References

Barthes, R. (1995). The Language of Fashion. Oxford: Berg.

Konig, A. (2006). Glossy words: An analysis of fashion writing in British Vogue. Fashion Theory. 10(1/2). Pp. 205-224.

Rantisi, (2004). The ascendance of New York fashion. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research. 28(1). Pp. 86-106.

Rocamora, A. (2001). High fashion and pop fashion: the symbolic production of fashion in Le Monde and the Guardian. Fashion Theory: the Journal of Dress, Body and Culture. 5(2).  PP. 123-142.